Snowplow train

The mystery of the snowplow train is solved.

Thanks for all the comments on the weird and wonderful trains video. I’m glad I posted it.

If you missed it, the below won’t make much sense, so here it is again.

A few of you kindly sent in this pic, of the train that was gnawing away at my curiosity:

snowplow train

How I couldn’t work out it’s a snowplow train is beyond me. But there you go.

Some really good stuff came in about the other to:

“The unit at 2:19 is a double-ended snow plow.

Most snow plows of that type had a “box” end on the rear which required the unit be turned to clear snow in the other direction (see attached photo.)

This one eliminated the problem by having a plow at both ends.

The NYC “Jet” passenger car was actually an RDC (Rail Diesel Car, self-propelled) that was modified.

Supposedly it reached a claimed speed of about 150 miles per hour. The one that followed that was the Russian version which reached roughly the same claimed speed.

Interestingly enough, the train that set the North American speed record at nearly 170 miles per hour used jet turbine engines — the United Aircraft Turbo Train, which was a double-ended train that didn’t have to be turned at the end of the line. Each locomotive had seven turbine engines.

San Bernardino, California
United States”

“Dear Al,

Very, very, good! Thanks I have saved it.

Actually some of the locomotives were very successful.

The Pennsylvania Duplex 4-4-4-4 and 6-4-4-6 were developed because the pistons and connecting rods from one cylinder per side were getting so big they played havoc with the tracks.

The idea was to have 4 cylindrers instead of 2 and divide the power to the eight drivers.

The Union Pacific needed the power of the Big Boys and the Huge Gas Turbine locomotives over the mountain grades. The UP is now using multiple diesels, some times as many as six in one train instead.

Likewise the C&O allegheny 2-6-6-6 mallets were very successful.

The Algerian (PLM)4-6-2+2-6-4 streamlined Beyer Garrett was built for fast Passenger trains in Algeria and still holds the world speed record for articulated locomotives.

The Mig15 jet engine is probably not a locomotive but an attempt at snow removal. The New York Central built an experimental snow removal vehicle by mounting a jet engine on a flat car.

It worked wonderfully blowing away the snow and the heat melted ice from the switches.

Unfortunately it also blew away the ballast from the tracks, braking lineside windows and injuring passengers waiting for trains in stations as it passed!

I’m going to send this post to all my buddies at the Peninsula Model Railroad Club in Newort News VA USA.

Thanks again.


I was very hesitant of posting the Weird and Wonderful video, but I’m glad I did now – especially now I know about the snowplow train.

It also reminded me of another post on the site – the ‘maintenance of way equipment’.

Here’s a pic of it – it’s a series bit of kit:

maintenance of way engine

And here’s what Dan did:

You can see the full post here.

Anyhow, please keep ’em coming. Business as usual next time.

And if today is the day you stop dreaming and make things happen, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

31 Responses to Snowplow train

  1. That should move some drifts

  2. David Holmes says:

    Dear Al –
    There is an example of a single ended Canadian Pacific snow plough at Markham Museum in north-east Toronto. When I visited the museum this summer and I first spotted this plough, it took me a while to work out what it was – it was so tall! I will take a photo next time I’m back there visiting the relatives

  3. John Fuller says:

    If you live in an area where you do not get snow you would not recognize what this car was used for. Take a look on the internet and search for snowplough trains and you will find that this one is a little baby compared to some others found around the world.

  4. Tom says:

    For those who made ‘crappy’ comments about “The Christmas Train’, I wish for them a ‘crappy’ Christmas. Thanks for sharing all of the interesting tidbits. Really enjoyed your Weird and Wonderful info.

  5. Brian Fendley says:

    Frank is correct about UP. I observe almost daily UP trains going between Nampa, Id. and Hermiston, Or. Depending on the number of cars attached and if their loaded or not I’ve seen as few as three and as many as seven locomotives per train.

  6. robert coe says:

    We don’t seem to have snow ploughs in the United Kingdom. When it slows the trains stop. So does everything else! It’s the way we do things here. Kinda cute, eh!

  7. Ivan Vychron says:

    The Mig15 jet engine is probably not a locomotive but an attempt at snow removal.
    Yes you’re right. Jet engine was used for snow removal. I’m remember them on Czechoslovakien railroads in sixties. I like watching but was very noisy. 🙂

  8. Andy says:

    i thought that wa made by Dr. Suess haha

  9. Mel says:

    There was another experimental jet powered passenger car named “the Black Beetle: because of its paint job. I don’t know if belonged to the New York Central RR or not. Your readers might want to look it up.

  10. builder Kim says:

    John Fuller you got that right.I live in Canada.there is a bigger one than that.Alot of those are used in the BC mountain’s.Seeing a lot of times one side of the train traveling is snuggled up against rock cliffs and mountain sides.the other side is open to a view’s of gorges and mountains and vallies. Dr suess hahaha ya does.upside down anvil

  11. Angus says:

    For those interested, Marklin makes an HO snow plow\blower (model 26833)

    Thanks Al for all the interesting stuff. Glad you’re enjoying Cussler.

  12. Douglas of Cornwall says:

    Al, it was a great video and I have kept it for future viewing. James Patterson is another good read, but doesn’t have the Hi-Tec gadgets that Cussler does. Patterson is more down to earth. Cheers, Douglas

  13. Willie Kerr (Glasgow) says:

    We need one of those monster things in the highlands of Scotland.

  14. Rod Mackay says:

    If anyone would like to run a snowplough on their layout but doesn’t want to mess it up by adding huge amounts of fake snow, I recall seeing a pair of single-ended snowploughs being taken for a test run after their pre-winter servicing. They were coupled plough to plough with a bar coupling and had a loco at each end, the rear one, running dead-in-train, would have been fired up to bring them back to the depot, to avoid needing to run round, and perhaps to ease any necessary shunting if one of the ploughs ran a hot box or something. I couldn’t see much detail as they were just passing, but it appeared there was a small hatch in the plough end with a coupling hook of some sort beneath for emergencies.

  15. Bill Schwinden says:

    The New York Central M-497 jet train set a speed record in July of 1966 In Bryan, Ohio ( My home town ) of 183.66 MPH after throttling down. It was “piloted” by Don Wetzel and a real sight to see. There is a small book ” The Flight of the M497 ” that all kinds of information Bill

  16. Lee Gilbert says:

    Hi Jim,
    Good Site for railroad items. This is a Good Picture of Snow Mobil.

    Lee Gilbert
    Edgerton, Ohio

  17. William says:

    Well, yes it is a snowplow. But I thought you meant the “Czech 836” which seems to be up at 2:19 when I viewed the video. Rather hard to see any of the drivers, etc. in that pic. Is there any more info out there about it?

  18. where those plow have a engine in them or had to have a loco in back to push iti seen the single plow ones in operation but never the 2 plow one i could see lots of accident with this unit being push by a diesel even with the crow nest on that plow did they come with side mount wingsto push a wider path just curious thats all

  19. Gene Fricks says:

    There is also a single-ended snow plow on display in Bellefonte, PA,

  20. Bill Sparling says:

    The grand daddy of them all, from my memories, are the huge rotary snow plows that were used by Southern Pacific for heavy snow removal on the line over Donner Pass, between Roseville, California and Reno, Nevada. They use flangers and spreaders for the light stuff but when the snow was heavy, they would fire up these beasts and push them over the summit with heavy engine power and blow snow from 150 to 200 feet in either direction, depending on the direction the blades were spinning. Those snowplows were powered by diesel engines.

  21. Bruce says:

    Seems several photos are not attached.
    Also, Matt mentioned a plow at “2:19”. Was there supposedly a video?
    Always waiting for your daily posts. Always something to be thought out to a future use.
    Bruce in SC USA

  22. Dale Popula says:

    With regards to the jet show plow. As a track supervisor (Road master in the west) I had a jet plow. My first subdivision had the snow jet, flanger, and Jordan Spreader for snow removal. I also had a locomotive crane and burro crane; the rip had an Erie wrecker.
    The jet was on a two axial cart and the exhaust nozzle looked like a giant vacuum apostasy nozzle. We only used it to clean out the switch part of the turnout in yards not the main or branch lines. High air pressure was not really needed; the idea was using the heat to melt the snow and ice. The warm air did blow the water away it also to some degree vaporizes the water. It was very noisy and the crew had to wear ear protection like ground crews at airports or aircraft carriers. Keeping it fueled was a bite of a problem as was keeping it from freezing up from the water it displaced while not running.
    The picture of the double-ended plow looks like an early Russell plow has it has no adjustable side wings and the plow can be raised or lowered. A flanger is a Russell that has the blade notched out (like the Jordan) for the rail so the blade can plow the gauge. You better assign the section or I&R foreman to this operation.

  23. Robert Rolfe says:

    I am glad I am not the only one who had nothing in the video at 2:19. I only had black from 2:18 to 2:22
    NV Bob

  24. Anthony Diyenna says:

    The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg PA has an antique single-ended wooden snowplow from the Coudersport & Port Allegheny Railroad, a shortline that ran in Pennsylvania long ago. The Strasburg Railroad also has a similar wooden snowplow, a Russell type, that is still in use today to clear snow from their tracks, sometimes even pushed by a steam locomotive if the steam train is running that day.

    A additional note about unusual locomotives. Since none of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s T1 4-4-4-4 duplex locomotives were saved, a group called the T1 Trust is in the process of building one! It will be the 53rd T1, and will carry road number 5550 as that would have been the next number in the series of the production units (Nos. 5500 thru 5549, in addition to the 2 prototype locomotives Nos. 6110 and 6111).

  25. The Weird and Wonderful video was fun. Thanks for sharing it. When it ended, I got the normal YouTube, What’s Up Next window and there was Weird and Wonderful Part 2. At the end of that on was Weird and Wonderful Part 3. I found it intriguing to see what people could imagine and build. And, in some cases, rebuild. Working with a piece of equipment that I can hold in my hand is one thing, but building a piece of equipment with pushrod bigger around than my leg is awesome.

  26. PHILIP GARBE says:

    @ 2:19 the vid went from the Swiss Overhead Electric to the massive Virginian.
    Never saw a snow plow on the vid.
    BNSF kept one, a single end, in Mendota, IL for a couple years.

  27. Will in NM says:

    With regard to UP multi-unit trains, I live about a half mile from the UP mainline that runs from El Paso north towards Albuquerque. I don’t know what the train was hauling that was so heavy, but there were 8 diesels at the front of the train and two more helper engines in the middle.

  28. For those that wish to see a steam-powered rotary snowplow in action, a number of videos can be found by searching “C & TS RR snowplow”. My favorite is this 5-minute video showing not only the action of the plow but also the steam locomotives pushing it. Members of the crew walk alongside the locomotive tender tossing up snow to replenish the water supply, as the next water tank was at the top of the grade and they had a long way to go. These scenes were from 1993 on the 3′ gauge Cumbres and Toltec RR in Colorado and New Mexico, plowing up a 4% grade.


  29. ScenicsRme says:

    was there a number of different versions of the video linked? I too looked for the snowplow several times, but it was not in the video that came up when i clicked the link?

  30. Stephen Hill says:

    I thought it was an anvil ,oops my bad

  31. william james palmer says:

    that’s different but kind of neat

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